Stage One – Inspection
Garment . 1951 US Army M51 Fishtail Parka Coat
The item arrives at our premises and is hung up and clamped so that it can be thoroughly inspected. We will also use Ultra Violet lighting in order to help us to define particular staining types.
This particular parka had been poorly stored for at least 50 years and was found to be contaminated with various staining matter, none of which looked very pleseant.
You can see on the photographs that a tar like substance was on some of the fabric and this was found to have absorbed through to the other side of the fabric
The coat also had old mildew staining , water damage and not to out too fine a point on it, it smelt rather ripe.
Stage Two – Pre-spotting
Having determined the nature of the staining it was time to start treatment. We had already checked for the fragility of the textile and the construction of it so proceeded accordingly.
We treated the tar type staining over a period of time using a solvent based treatment which started to soften up the surface of the tar and enabled us to remove it layer by layer.
At this stage we had not started work on the mildewed staining as this requires a different type of process.
Stage Three – Cleaning
Having decided upon the best cleaning medium for the fabric type and staining type we placed the Parka into one of our dry cleaning machines for solvent washing. It is called dry cleaning, but as you can see from the photo, it is certainly not dry. it is a total immersion process and we use perchloroethylene solvent which is a very powerful cleaning product. (By the way, 100% of our waste solvent is sent away and recycled into product for other industries)
Stage Four – Post Cleaning Inspection
Following dry cleaning, the Parka was again hung up and re inspected for remaining staining and as the coat was in a more ” civilised” condition we were able to thoroughly check the condition of the cloth for holes, tears, loose seams etc.
Stage Five – Second Cleaning Process
We now began work on the water based staining and mildew. Using a high pressure steam gun and water soluble detergent we attack the remaining stains. The steam gun helps to wet and heat the area which swells the fibres thereby making it easier to get the detergent deep into the yarns. The coat is the put through an intensive wet clean process.
Stage Six – Post Cleaning Inspection
The coat is now placed in a steam cabinet where is it steamed and allowed to condition and dry during which stage any remaining marks become apparent and are re-treated if deemed appropriate. The coat is also again examined for any repairs that are required and would go to our repair department.
If the coat has passed stage six, it is then placed on a former in the shape of a Torso and hot steam, followed by cooling air is blown through it. The sleeves during this process will have had wooden sleeve formers placed in them to shape them and the hem of the coat is clamped in order to provide tension to the fabric whilst it is steamed. This helps to remove creasing.
The item then proceeds to the garment pressing area where specialist steam finishing equipment is used in order to produce a beautifully finished article.
The item is then sent to our final inspection point where we ensure that it is in the best condition that we can get it.
Stage Ten – The Finished Item
The trick with a restoration is to know when to stop. It is like restoring anything, say a Classic Car Mortis Minor for instance which the owner takes to be restored. Yes the restoration company could carry out a nut and bolt restoration, replace every body panel with new. The thing is that you then end up with a new car and the patina and character of the vehicle obtained over 50 years has been lost forever. This is what we try to achieve with the vintage garments sent to us. Maybe the word renovation is more appropriate than restoration, but whatever you decide, you can be assured that with over 100 years in the textile care business, we can be relied upon to cherish your item as much as you do.